Knowledge of Education


Knowledge is recorded knowing, which is the preservation of intersubjective signs of knowing in some medium that is external to the knower.


In  Methodology of Theory Building, E. Steiner (1988) makes the distinction between knowing and knowledge:

"Knowing is a psychical state in which one has certitude about something and has a right to that certitude... Knowledge, however, is recorded knowing; it is the body of expressed certitudes and rights thereto" (p. 5, italics added).

Recorded knowing can be preserved in a variety of media.  At one time, cave paintings, stone and clay tablets, and papyrus were used.  Nowadays, in addition to printed paper and books, we have video and audio recordings, photographs, animations, computerized games and simulations, and electronic storage devices to store records such as hard drives, flash memory, and the “cloud” (i.e., remote storage on devices which can be accessed over computer networks such as the Internet).

The record of knowing consists of signs.  The signs are not the object of what is known, but rather the signs represent what is known.  Charles Sanders Peirce spent much of his life attempting to develop a theory of signs (see Short, 2007).

Furthermore, the signs are intersubjective, literally between conscious persons. That is, signs must be sharable among persons in some overt manner, and they must persist in some external medium in the absence of the person who originally created the signs, so that other persons may later interpret the signs.

In discussing mind and nature, Bateson (1979) notes the distinction between a sign and its object:  “The map is not the territory, and the name is not the thing named” (p. 30).  Bateson’s ‘territory’ and ‘thing’ are Peirce’s ‘objects’ and the ‘map’ and ‘name’ are Peirce’s ‘signs.’  Bateson’s map is a sign whose object is the territory being represented.  The map is what Peirce refers to as an ‘index’ in the sense that the sign is affected by its object (i.e., the existing territory that is represented by the map).  While this distinction may seem obvious, it is important to keep it in mind:  a sign is not the actual object itself, but stands for (i.e., represents) the object.  A satellite photograph of the territory would also be an index.